By Shaun Casey
DERRY have their eyes firmly set on a league final, but they first have to deal with the difficult prospect of Meath this weekend. It’s a straight shootout, whoever comes out on top qualifies for a showpiece slot against table-toppers Kerry.
PJ O’Mullan’s side have enjoyed a decent campaign to date, losing just once, to the Kingdom, but bounced back with their recent victory over Laois to put themselves in with a decent chance of reaching the decider.
“We were disappointed with our performance against Kerry at home,” said the Derry boss. “Without making too many excuses we were short a lot and then we had a better performance against Laois, and we always knew it was going to come down to the last match with Meath.
“We want to win on Sunday, and we want to try and get promoted to Division One. That was the aim and that’s still the aim.”
Those injuries are still an issue, but O’Mullan is hopeful that he has a full hand to pick from this weekend.
“We have a few niggly injuries. We’re hoping that we will have a clean bill of health come the weekend.
“We’ve trained this week and there’s no doubt we have a few injuries but we’re hopefully that most of the players will be available. We’ll meet again on Saturday and hopefully by then they’ll have cleared up.
“Our squad’s not too bad at the minute, we have a wee bit of strength in depth, and we’ll be hopeful that everyone will be available.
“There are one or two big players that are carrying knocks and it’ll just be a matter of massaging them through and letting the physios do their job.”
That Kerry defeat is the only blot on an otherwise spotless league record this season as Derry have overcome the challenges of Cavan, Westmeath and Laois to sit second in the table with one round of games remaining.
While the loss was tough to take, and there were some “very tough questions asked,” O’Mullan, in his first year in charge of the Oak Leaf County, believes his side have taken plenty of learnings from the encounter.
“Kerry have been the consistent team; they haven’t been beat yet,” added O’Mullan. “Ourselves and Meath have been beat once and we meet this weekend but there’s not much between the teams.
“On the day, anything that could go wrong did go wrong. We looked at the video of it very quickly afterwards, we played on the Saturday and trained on the Monday and looked at the video and looked at what we could learn and where we could learn.
“Thankfully, I think the players and the management had a real good look at themselves. There were a few very tough questions asked and a few tough answers so hopefully now that we’re back on the road again, we’ll get a better performance now that the learnings have been put into place.
“I think with more games and with more experience, the learnings from that Kerry game will benefit us going forward.”